Massachusetts Water Resources Authority


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May 7, 2004

MWRA Shuts Off Old Reservoir Thursday, Opens New Facility in Weston to Protect Boston Area’s Water Supply

At an event attended by federal and state environmental officials, MWRA engineers  “topped-off” the new Norumbega Covered Storage Facility by briefly overflowing the 115 million gallon tank into the old open reservoir. The event marked the culmination of over eight years of construction on the 17.6 mile long MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel and the storage tank in Weston.  Water will now flow completely underground from the reservoirs to the customer’s tap, providing for greatly improved security and protection of excellent water quality.

MWRA has built five covered storage facilities to replace open distribution reservoirs like Norumbega, which is the last open reservoir to be removed from service. Norumbega was operating daily since 1940, filled with water at night from an older aqueduct to provide full pressure and water supply to metro Boston during the day-time. Spot Pond along I-93 in Stoneham was removed from service in 1997. MWRA water supply comes from the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs in central Massachusetts.

The new $93 million facility in Weston covers 17 acres of land and will eventually be covered by a grassy meadow and small vegetation. Public access will be opened up around the open reservoir.

The new tunnel and tank are two of the core components of the MWRA’s $1.7 billion water supply improvement program to update the regional water system for the 21st Century.  The major elements include the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel, covered storage tanks, the Walnut Hill Water Treatment Plant (set to open in 2005), watershed protection projects, and water pipeline upgrades in the MWRA and community water systems. The new tunnel now serves as the system’s transmission backbone, instead of the Hultman Aqueduct, a surface aqueduct with numerous leaks. These changes represent the largest improvement to the water system since the Quabbin Reservoir was built in the Depression.